Catalytic converter thieves are on the loose around Chicago, and they act fast
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Thieves are stealing catalytic converters from cars parked around the Chicago area.

Police say the thieves pull up in car alongside parked cars, climb underneath, and remove the converters in just a minute or two.

As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, Chicago Police on Thursday issued a warning about more than a dozen catalytic converter thefts.  These particular thefts were all on the Northwest Side, but it seems really no neighborhood is off limits.

If you hear the sound of someone power-sawing through metal coming from your parked car, chances are the catalytic converter is about to be stolen. Peter Rivera’s son’s catalytic converter was stolen, and he saw it happen.

“It’s a crew going around from neighborhood to neighborhood,” Rivera said.

A group of armed thieves swiped the catalytic converter from Rivera’s son’s car this week near 48th Street and Hoyne Avenue in Back of the Yards.

“One guy jacked it up, one guy crawled underneath with a cutter and cut the catalytic converter off,” Rivera said. “There was another in the back – it looked like he had a gun.”

A catalytic converter was also cut off a car near 100th Street and Exchange Avenue on the Southeast Side. The owner put out a warning on Facebook.

The Chicago Police Department also sent a warning that more than a dozen catalytic converters have been stolen from the Northwest Side – largely in the Jefferson Park and Norwood Park communities:

  • 5000 block of West Balmoral Avenue on Thursday, June 23, at 2:10 a.m.
  • 3200 block of North Oak Park Avenue on Thursday June 23, at 8:45 p.m.
  • 4900 block of North Newcastle Avenue on Thursday, June 23, at 9 p.m.
  • 6800 block of West Talcott Avenue on Friday, June 24, 2022, at 1 a.m.
  • 5700 block of North Oketo Avenue on Friday, June 24, at 2:10 a.m.
  • 4700 block of North Milwaukee Ave. on June 24, 2022, at 2:55 am
  • 6100 block of West Gunnison Street on Friday, June 24, at 7:40 a.m.
  • 6200 block of West Lawrence Avenue on Friday, June 24, at 7:45 a.m.
  • 5600 block of North Cumberland Avenue on Friday, Jun 24, at 9 p.m.
  • 7800 block of West Rosedale Avenue on Saturday, June 25, at 3 a.m.
  • 5100 block of West Berwyn Avenue on Monday, June 27, at 8 a.m.
  • 8500 block of West Higgins Road on Tuesday, June 28, at 2:20 a.m.
  • 5400 block of North East River Road on Tuesday, June 28, at 7:30 p.m.
  • 5400 block of North Harlem Avenue on Wednesday, June 29, at 1 a.m.

Police say the crews are pulling up next to a car, hopping out with tools, and going to work.

The precious metals inside the catalytic converters can yield hundreds of dollars.

“You found an easy way to make money, but it could cost you down the line big time,” Rivera said.

In Evanston, police are trying to deter catalytic converter thefts by spray-painting catalytic converters – a warning to would be thieves and an alert to scrappers not to cash them in.

And while it takes just seconds to steal a catalytic converter, it costs victims their ride and hundreds if not thousands of dollars to replace. Rivera called it “extremely” frustrating.

“You can’t drive it because it’s so loud,” he said.

There are devices that a mechanic can install to protect your catalytic converter. Police also suggest parking inside a garage if it’s an option.

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